Colorado Receives Grant Before Proposition FF

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) – State schools recently received a $20,000 grant from nonprofit No Kid Hungry and eleven other states. They aim to give money to feed children by providing free food.

Colorado continues to receive grants to help children since federally funded ones expired in June 2022 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state also proposed the FF proposal, which was put on the midterm elections and accepted.

The proposal focuses on providing free school meals for children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. However, the No Kid Hungry grant money can cater for children who are not yet enrolled in school or for after-school hours such as dinners and weekends.

“School meals are vital for children and they ensure that children enrolled in school have breakfast, lunch and snacks Monday to Friday. But that doesn’t appeal to families who are struggling; this does not apply to nights and weekends. So this is the first thing. There are thousands of children under the age of five who are not yet in school,” said Caron Gremont, director of early childhood education at No Kid Hungry.

“Coloradans don’t pay for all children so that every child gets a free meal. It’s a gap funding bill,” said Dan Sharp, director of nutritional services for District 51 (D51). He also mentions that one in four packs their lunch and two in four receive a government reimbursement for money spent on lunch. The rest, one in four, is covered by Proposition FF. Before COVID, Mesa County fed about 45% of its children with state-provided funds, but it wasn’t accessible to all children. When the 2020 pandemic struck and Mesa County was able to feed all of its children, that number rose to 63%. Sharp says that when the proposal goes into effect next year, only a few will use it.

Schools using the National School Lunch Program may apply for funding through Proposal FF. The Colorado Department of Education is still deciding whether there will be a school enrollment deadline. Proposition FF comes into effect in 2023 and will continue for as long as possible before there are changes that could set an expiration date. Gremont mentions that even when Proposition FF is active, because of the flexibility they can offer and the more expandable the funding, the state will continue to receive other grants when awarded for them.

The No Kids Hungry Grant and Proposition FF are similar in that they both have a way of helping kids get free meals that are nutritious and healthy.